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East Hampton moves forward with privatizing airport

Months of discordance between East Hampton officials and the FAA, along with three lawsuits and a media frenzy, forced the town to postpone the airport’s closure until May 17. The town plans to  reopen the airport 33 hours later as a private airport with a prior permission required (PPR) framework. 

Though nothing specific has been enacted, the town unveiled proposals including: setting mandatory curfews; limiting commercial operations to one daily round trip per aircraft; prohibiting touch-and-go landings; and phasing out allowing use of the airport by aircraft that use fuel that contains lead.

Pilots, residents, and stakeholders were asked to submit comments on the proposed restrictions and offer suggestions related to airport operations by March 25.

AOPA and industry groups responded in a March 18 letter, writing, “We also advise caution by the Town in its…consideration of the various PPR proposals that have been put forward. For all of them, virtually no detail has been provided, and thus significant questions remain about exactly how they would be put into effect and whether they would be effective in addressing the Town’s concerns—including, but not limited to whether they would have ‘spillover’ effects due to diversions to other airports, thus significantly impacting other communities on eastern Long Island. Generally, we strongly recommend that the Town carefully consider the feedback that is expected to be provided in this proceeding, and further engage with HTO tenants and aviation users.”

The town has yet to respond to the industry questions. Meanwhile, the FAA conducted its airport airspace analysis and found no objection to the town’s request to deactivate the airport on May 17 and reopen it as a private use PPR airport under the name East Hampton Town Airport (JPX) on May 19.

The town, working with a third-party consultant, Flight Tech Engineering, has completed the design of new private instrument flight procedures that will not be available to the public. Use by airport operators requires completion of an application process with the township and FAA approval.

AOPA and industry groups continue to encourage town leaders to work together with the aviation industry, the FAA, and neighboring communities to find a reasonable and fair path forward for the East Hampton Airport.

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